LOMPOC, Calif. - Under a sky full of smoke at the Public Safety Complex in Lompoc, Allan Hancock College Fire Academy held a live demonstration before a formal graduation ceremony for the cadets of Battalion 140.
"It just shows us what we've been training for this whole time is real and we need to be ready when the call comes in," said graduate Bret Waszkiewicz.
Twenty nine cadets are now ready for the call after completing a rigorous 18-week long course.
"They trained us," said graduate Thomas Barrios. "Best instructors in the state have trained us and we're all ready to hit the ground running."
More than 600 hours of intense training was needed to complete the course. Now that they've earned their certification, the graduates are needed now more than ever before.
"We live in California, so it's always burning," said Barrios. "We have a lot of boots on the ground. Everybody in this academy is itching to get out there."
When they do get into the workforce, they'll do so with welcome arms.
"California is almost stripped bare of firefighters right now and they were running short to begin with, so these kids are going to fill those gaps and do the job," said Fire Academy coordinator Andy Denmore.
About a third of the graduates already have jobs lined up with local agencies, meaning they could soon be sent out to battle a wildfire, much like the ones burning throughout the state.
"We are part of the future of the fire service," Denmore said. "They've been prepared to go out and take care what's happening in Southern California. They're going to be part of that team in the next few months or whenever they'll get their jobs."
When the graduates are able to land a job, they'll live by the Firefighter's Code of Ethics.
It's a responsibility that says they are to protect and preserve life and property against fire and disaster.
"I can say firsthand the men and women that I got to be with through this academy are some of the finest and I look forward to working beside them in the future, said graduate Nick Ducasse. "I can promise the public that there's good men and women in this group that are going to give their hearts for their community."